[SWTOR] The ‘oops we just broke high level world PvP’ patch

So, first content patch of the game has brought new flashpoint, operation (raid) stuff, class tweaks, and PvP tweaks and boy has the latter turned out to be a doozy.

There were tweaks made to the open world high level PvP zone on Ilum to encourage players to earn valor via killing other characters rather than just capturing objectives. However, the faction bases had not been given sufficient safe zones, add to that a population imbalance and what you end up with is one faction farming the other at the respawn point for eternity. And the respawning guys couldn’t get to their taxi/ escape point. MMOCrunch describes in more detail what’s been going down.

Bioware have apologised and are planning to patch it urgently. So basically PvP was messed up on Ilum for an evening, and there will be fixes. They also commented about noticing individuals who took ‘extreme advantage’ of the situation, but we’ve no idea what’s happening with that.

I find it hard to be up in arms about this since I’ve never even been to Ilum and although the game contains PvP, I don’t really consider SWTOR to be a PvP game. If they’d broken PvE I’d be mildly irritated though. However, PvP tweaks in a game really do need to be more carefully tested that this. It leaves the feeling that Ilum had been a problem when players were deliberately zone flipping so they put in a quick patch which has led to worse problems. I suspect they will eventually iterate on a fun/ workable solution, because open PvP zones can be fun and aren’t a bad idea.

As for players leaving en masse, it comes down to how much patience you want to have with a new MMO and team. I think the general lack of patience in the player base has been the doom of MMOs in general, but at the same time, a dev team needs to build the level of trust that means players will roll with a bad patch in the knowledge that it gets fixed. Bioware have not got off to the best of starts.

The important thing for me is a) how quickly they hotfix the problem and b) whether they can learn from the experience and avoid doing it again. The faction imbalance, however, is a whole other issue …

31 thoughts on “[SWTOR] The ‘oops we just broke high level world PvP’ patch

  1. “noticing”? Without warning, they ban people for harvesting resources, but only “notice” inescapable griefing? Starting to wonder if they’re throwing darts at a punishment board.

    • I really don’t think they should be banning people for spawn camping in PvP. Yes, it’s lame, but it’s the sort of thing players do in PvP. (ie. that sort of asshat behaviour is part of the deal for a lot of players. Certainly it’s not a cheat or exploit.) I’d be more concerned about people building up massive valor point totals.

    • It’s not griefing to camp graveyards. Is it?

      Did the players camping even know that it was impossible for their opponents to escape? How can you tell whether people are ressing because they’re trapped or trying to fight back?

      I’m also in the camp that hasn’t reached Ilum yet but I think it would be rotten to ban people for pvping on the pvp planet.

      • If they’ve ever had to use a graveyard in the game, they’d have the necessary information to know their opponents couldn’t escape.

        Point totals just give people a couple pieces of gear. That’s not going to ruin the experience for anyone as much as the spawn-camping for the trapped player. We’re not talking about “until the camped player decides to leave Ilum”. There’s no button to quit the planet.

  2. I don’t think they can fix faction imbalance at this point without drastically re-writing the game.

    Not only did they stick the most interesting questlines over on the the Sith side, not that the Republic questlines are bad per say but they are kind of generic bioware quests, the entire of the empire is set up so so you can be a sexy badass. Which is what every single MMO player tends to gravitate towards, given the chance. Pretty will usually win out over badass but combine the two and you know who’s going to be the most popular.

    All that’s stopping there from being no Republic at all is the fact the Empire doesn’t start with a katana and a set of black, skull adorned armour.

    • Yup, I agree. I can see why they would have thought people might want to play their favourite ‘good guy’ stereotypes from the films, but it’s been interesting to see that gamers do predominantly prefer sexy badass characters and that evil militaristic societies with really strong class structures can be more interesting also.

      I think Republic is likely to be more interesting once there is an open war on, but those would be future stories.

      • Oddly “evil militaristic societies with really strong class structures” is a good description of successful Eve alliances like Bob and Goons.

        Fascists do well in wargames. Makes a certain sense I suppose.

      • Funnily enough, I find these sorts of intricate class based evil societies fascinating to RP or tell stories around, but I don’t really find it fun in guilds. It’s certainly effective if you can gather enough likeminded players who like obeying orders, for sure.

        Come to think of it, lots of RPers always seemed to like being part of really hierarchical organisations too. There’s probably something deep there around people having unmet needs as children for well defined boundaries …. or something 🙂

  3. The low level of tolerance of players is not really a low level of tolerance, it’s just that the market is very competitive, so if you’re bored/annoyed somewhere you’ll go testing something else “while waiting for the fix”. If what you test turns out to be more interesting, that’s one lost player for the game.

  4. I’m not 50 yet so not on Illum and am enjoying PvP much more. I actually scored in Huttball for the first and second times ever last night, no more batting ineffectually against guys in full PvP armour. I no longer feel like a chump. What annoys me is that people are expecting the polish of things like WoW in a game that isn’t even a month old yet (at least officially). When WoW launched it wasn’t all that great, TOR is leaps and bounds ahead of that but still have some kinks to work out. No-one will release a perfect MMO day one. The sooner the kiddies realise this, the sooner I can stand to go to official forums and expect reasoned and well though out discussion of actual issues.

    • “The sooner the kiddies realise this, the sooner I can stand to go to official forums and expect reasoned and well though out discussion of actual issues”

      It’s nice to live in hope 🙂

  5. I think comparing WOW and SWTOR at lauch is pretty missed when you check when each title was presented to players. It would be better to look at SWTOR and Rift in my opinion.

  6. Not so much lack of patience, more higher expectations given SW is competing against games as they exist now, not as they existed on release.

  7. Remember Tol Barad a year ago (which was unwinnable on offense for an average team)? They hotfixed it to reward attacking. It went so well…

    Someone in Bioware could really play WoW to don’t make the same mistakes.

  8. Well they made a small mistake that negatively affected a few people for an evening… That’s inevitable if they keep up a good pace of devevopment and that’s going to be necessary if they are going to retain some of their subscribers for more than a couple of months.

  9. Regarding the Ilum exploiters I think to some extent the game company needs to take responsibility. It’s natural for anyone playing a treadmill to spin the wheel faster if given an opportunity. It’s in there with min-maxing, planning out optimal quest routes choosing strategy A over strategy B.

    The Slicing thing was just as bad. When the game launched Slicing was obviously and clearly broken. I and many others felt we should slice as much as we can before they nerfed it. Should they be banned or is it Bioware’s responsibility for not fixing something that was very obvious and that tons of testers had told them about?

    As someone who is generally an optimising achiever-type I depend on the game company to set limits for me to push. If they leave one strategy as over-powered then I’m going to tend to play that strategy.

    Should I not play Sith Sorc because it’s over-powered? Should BW ban everyone who rolled one?

    • “Should I not play Sith Sorc because it’s over-powered? Should BW ban everyone who rolled one?”

      Clearly not, they should only ban the people who rolled one because it was overpowered, not the ones who like the playstyle legitimately 🙂 And why is my class never the overpowered one?

      Maybe I’ll get working on that jedi sage ….

  10. Pingback: Quote of the Day « Bio Break

  11. As someone who PvP’s about as often as politicians tell the truth, the specific exploits don’t concern me so much as the developers reaction. As others have mentioned, it comes down to accountability. They broke it, they need to fix it, and they need to do so quickly and responsibly. It would seem that in this case, they have done so. Measures were taken almost immediately to “stem” the damage, and a patch was deployed within 24 hours to (hopefully) provide a permanent fix.

    The other important aspect to me is, what did they learn from this? Are they going to test their patches more thoroughly in the future? Are they going to check for these kind of potential exploits better? It is somewhat a case of, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” The first time we let it go. But if these kinds of exploits emerge in each content patch, then eventually we the players have to question what is going on at their end and what that means for the long term stability of the game.

  12. I can certainly understand people’s frustrations with t e situation last night. But the fix is out already. And such is the nature of open-world PvP. It’s why I avoid it.

    I also think the zone fliiping for resource gathering could have been fixed a different way. Is it the dev’s reponsiblity to counteract exploits? Yes. They also have the right and responsibility to discipline or remove players taking advantage of those exploits before they are fixed. Take every advantage you can, Stabs. But don’t be surprised when they start swinging the banhammer along with the nerfbat.

  13. That is my point exactly. For a title as massive and hyped as SWTOR, a “Massively Multiplayer” game by definition, it is a little ridiculous that this managed to slip through.

  14. The reason I’m not particularly patient when it comes to SWTOR is that Bioware had about 7 years of Blizzard’s experience to learn from and a generous budget to work with.

    The game came out in late 2011, not in 2004, and it launched without a lot of standard features – no UI customization, no combat log, no high res textures, for example. They weren’t trying any daring innovation on MMO front, so why do they keep being surprised by the same problems Blizzard ran into years ago? Haven’t they seen Wintergrasp, Tol Barad, profession perks adjustments, crafting headaches, talent tree re-designs, faction imbalances… it’s like EA locked them up in some dungeon back in 2006 and told them they don’t get to come out until the game ships.

  15. @msp: To be blunt, you’re making a fairly classic logical error there. You’re assuming that the time and effort and money that went into building one game, seven years ago, will somehow extend to another game made by another company in another location at another time.

    WoW became what it is today through a series of iterations; hundreds of tiny changes (patches) as well as a few big ones (expansions). It didn’t launch with all the bells and whistles that it has today, and it didn’t launch with the content that it has today. It certainly didn’t launch with the PvP experience it has today.

    So why do you expect other games to do so? Honestly, how is this reasonable?

    I understand why you WANT this. Truly, I do. But I don’t understand why you EXPECT this. I’m not making excuses, and I’m not being a fanboy; I’m just trying to be a rational consumer here, and I don’t understand these complaints.

    I suppose it’s possible that this expectation derives from the idea that designing and coding an MMO is a pretty simple matter, and that any problem solved by one person should be considered solved by everyone. The fact is though that each design team has to reinvent the wheel a lot of the time, and more to the point, they don’t always want or need to create carbon copies of each other. But even if we assumed that WoW did it all perfectly, and the SWTOR devs were content to just copy WoW’s successes, they’d still have to reinvent the processes.

    I don’t however assume that WoW did it all perfectly, and don’t agree that it’d be wise to simply copy everything from that game. So by extension this means that the devs have to consider every feature individually and try to solve them, instead of treating them as “solved problems”. And so I’d expect to see them make some of the same mistakes, as well as some new mistakes. But then I’d also expect to see them avoid some of the mistakes made by the WoW devs, as well.

    • I’m assuming that any company entering a competitive and mature market would care to take a look at their competitors’ products, figure out what works and what doesn’t and proceed from there. Actually, as a consumer, I expect this as baseline. It’s true that it’s not fair to new companies, but that’s how it works.When Apple entered crowded mobile phone market, they didn’t start by introducing a 10-pound mobile car version of iPhone, did they?

      Warcraft wasn’t badly out of date when it launched in 2004. SWTOR shouldn’t be in 2012 either. Other companies paid to innovate, iterate and develop; their experience is available, free to take and learn from. In some places, Bioware definitely did. In others, they failed miserably.

      • Well quite. Arguing that it’s reasonable for a new MMO to be uncompetitive with WoW because of Wow’s maturity is like arguing it’s reasonable for new car manufacturers to make cars that go at 4 miles per hour tops because that’s how Ford started out.

        To be fair I don’t think SWTOR is out of date or uncompetitive. It’s a very good game for the cutscene driven questing and no one has ever done that particular thing better.

      • I would argue that SWTOR isn’t “badly out of date”. It lacks some features that WoW has, but if you actually go and do some reading on their dev tracker you’ll see that in some cases that’s by design (no mods, no combat logs, no LFD). I may or may not agree with the design decisions in each of those cases, but I can see that they ARE design designs and not simple incompetence because they haven’t completely replicated each feature of WoW.

  16. @MSP You’re right to some extent, however your Apple analogy fails to take into account that the original iPhone was an iteration of the iPod–and a piece of hardware, to boot–so it is more like an expansion than a new product.

    The other thing is that WoW (since we’re making that comparison) is indeed a mature game, that has had millions of dollars poured into it from revenues on the already published portions. SWTOR, as released, was developed through pure investement with nothing to show for it until copies shipped in December. BioWare had to prioritize limited resources. Also many of the solutions Blizzard came up with are proprietary, copyrighted, information. BioWare can’t simply copy and paste code from WoW into SWTOR, even if that would work. They do have to reinvent many of the bells and whistles we would like to see from other games.

    The game has both objective flaws (bugs) and subjective flaws (“missing” features). Improvements will (have) come and quickly. They just put out a video outlining some of those. http://youtu.be/3-TChrg5foo Call me a fanboi if you’d like, I think the game needs improvement. But I am also patient enough to see it done, instead of comparing SWTOR to a game that has gone through four expansions and myriad patches in seven years.

    • Solutions generally aren’t copyright. And most of WoW’s UI solutions were invented by fans who have not assigned copyright to Blizzard. There’s no way Blizzard would win an IP case based on someone infringing Blizzard’s copy of Instant Quest Text or Outfitter since they just took it off a fan.

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